Tiny Talks is an interview series with Tiny Spoon’s talented contributors. This week we spoke with Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad from Issue 8, Cut/Copy/Paste: The Original! Read her poem, “Death Dream in Purple” in our eighth issue!
Tiny Spoon: What kindles your creativity?
Oormila: Everyday things! I believe there is magic in the commonplace. I see my art and poetry as documentations of my daily experiences — conversations I have with my children, the people I meet, sights and scenes I encounter on my walks, photos I take.
Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists/ heroines/ idols/ friends that you look up to?
Oormila: I can think of so many! Off the top of my head, I look up to Carolynn Kingyens for her luminous poetry that brims with tenderness and humanity, Zaina Ghani for her wonderfully imagistic works, Nina Bennett, Beate Sigriddaughter, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Sneha Subramanium Kanta, and Mandira Pattnaik’s for her lyrical flash fiction. Idols I admire — my friend Sandhya Devanathan. She is my role model.
Tiny Spoon: Are there any natural entities that move your work?
Oormila: I live in a green and leafy suburb of Sydney. I get visits from all kinds of lovely wild spirits: bunnies, possums, magpies, bush turkeys, cockatoos, and lorikeets to name a few. I have published several series of mixed-media artworks and poems inspired by these beautiful creatures. My studio overlooks a lovely garden and during the lockdown, the wildlife was pretty much my social life. They figure prominently in a lot of my work.
Tiny Spoon: We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general?
Oormila: I have several projects going on at any given point in time, and I keep switching among them. I like to work in an organized space which is easy when I am writing poetry. It’s the painting that gets messy and I find myself getting distracted and cleaning up in the middle of work very often! I always carry a sketch book and a notepad. In the pre-Covid days, a lot of my poetry drafts were written either on train commutes or while waiting to pick my kids up from school.
Tiny Spoon: Do you have any current or future projects that you are working on that you would like to share?
Oormila: I am working on two micro-chapbooks. Both my parents have milestone birthdays coming up this year. My mum turns 70 and dad turns 75 and I want to surprise them with two collections of poems dedicated to both! I also have plans to put together a full-length poetry manuscript at some point.
Tiny Spoon: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others?
Oormila: Carolynn Kingyens’ books Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound, and Coupling. I am a huge fan of Gaia Rajan’s writing, and I loved her chapbook Moth Funerals. I would also recommend Phillip Hall’s brilliant collection of poems, Cactus, which is a heart-breaking exploration of depression and what it is like to live with it. I also recommend all Shankari Chandran’s books: Song of the Sun God, The Barrier, and her latest novel, Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens.
Tiny Spoon: Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond?
Oormila: Besides writing poetry and painting, I play improv piano — some Metallica, Pink Floyd, Guns and Roses. I have a huge collection of odds and ends in my studio, and I use some crazy materials in my mixed media works sometimes. Recently, I made “cat wool” from the hair from my cat’s brush. It made for the most delicate silver wool, and I added it as accents to a few winter-themed mixed media landscapes. It looked great!
Tiny Spoon: Where can people learn more about what you do?